Modi, Trump pledge 'strong leadership to address global challenges'

United States President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo: White House/IANS)

Osaka (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump on Friday declared that their countries were "central to global peace and stability" and pledged to "provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come", according to the White House.

The two leaders exchanged "perspectives on progress in the strategic partnership and develop new ideas to bring it to the next level", at their bilateral meeting here on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, the White House said in a readout of their meeting.

They "acknowledged the unprecedented breadth and depth of bilateral ties, including economic, trade, energy, defense and security, counter-terrorism, and space", the statement said.

"The leaders affirmed that, as responsible democracies, a close partnership between the US and India is central to global peace and stability. They reiterated their commitment to provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come," it added.

Before their bilateral meeting, Modi and Trump held a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinto Abe. 

After the trilateral meeting, Modi tweeted: "Today's meeting of the JAI (Japan, America, India) Trilateral was a productive one. We had extensive discussions on the Indo-Pacific region, improving connectivity and infrastructure development".

A White House statement of the trilateral meeting said the leaders "reaffirmed the critical importance of strengthening US-India-Japan cooperation to reinforce shared core democratic values, which promote global security and prosperity".

"They agreed to meet every year aceto ensure successful cooperation in multiple areas, including maritime security, quality infrastructure, and advancing peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean and Pacific region and beyond."

Before his meeting with Modi, Trump said he thought they will have a "very big trade deal to announce".

"I think we will just continue to get along with India," he told reporters as they got ready for the talks. "We certainly work together on trade and we'll be discussing trade today."

"I think we going to have some very big things to announce. Very big trade deal."

Trade is a cause of major friction between India and the US, with Trump on a warpath on tariffs. Last month, US withdrew the General Scheme of Preferences (GSP) trade concessions to India accusing it of failing to provide "equitable and reasonable access" to its markets.

India on June 16 retaliated by hiking tariffs on 28 US products.

"I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high tariffs against the US, just recently increased the tariffs even further," Trump tweeted while heading to Osaka on Thursday.

Modi said before the talks that the key topics they would discuss include Iran, 5G, bilateral relations and defence relations.

He added that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his recent visit to New Delhi had delivered a "very warm letter" from Trump congratulating him on his recent re-election.

Trump has put sanctions on oil trade with Iran, an important energy source for India. 

Asked about it prior to his meeting with Modi, Trump said: "We have a lot of time -- there's no rush they can take their time. There is absolutely no time pressure. Hopefully in the end it's going to work out. If it does, great, if it doesn't, youall be hearing about it."

Earlier before the formal start of the trilateral talks, Trump congratulated Modi on his re-election.

He praised them for their "tremendous success" in the presence of media as their talk was about to begin.

Abe told reporters that their three countries are the "foundation of peace and prosperity in the region" and thanked "Donald Trump and Prime Minister Modia" for their roles.

When the three leaders were asked to shake hands for a photograph, Trump initiated a three-way fist bump.

Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner were present at the start of the trilateral meeting.

The trilateral meeting began after Trump and Abe had a bilateral meeting.

A White House official, who briefed reporters before the trilateral meeting said it was "an opportunity to promote a resilient quality secure infrastructure" and "all three countries promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region".

The official said that the leaders planned to discuss "strong naval cooperation", following up on a recent joint exercise in the South China Sea.

This was the second trilateral meeting of the three leaders, who had met last year at the Buenos Aires G20 meeting.

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